Miles of rugged wilderness, including forests, hills, rivers, and lakes, stood between his homestead and the nearest road system, and his closest neighbors were 20 miles away in the tiny community of Skwentna, Alaska.
Steele told the troopers he had been living on the small homestead plot since September, when he bought the hut from a Vietnam veteran and set out for an adventure.
"The mistake I made, I got hasty and I put a big piece of cardboard in the stove to start the fire", Steele said. He believes a piece of the flaming cardboard went out the chimney and landed on the roof.
Mr Steele woke up to "fiery drips of plastic" falling from his roof early in the morning. After Steele stepped outside, he said, "I just see that the whole roof's on fire".
The hut, Steele informed the cannon fodders, "goes up into flames faster than, like, I can even imagine". He grabbed some coats and blankets and fled outside before it became an inferno, and was heartbroken to find out that his 6-year-old chocolate lab hadn't left when he yelled at him to get out.
His next thought is to grab his rifle around the other side of the cabin, and as he does Phil starts howling - but from inside the burning building. But I just huddled into that dark cave and I slept.
"Just a visceral - not angry, not sad, just like, that's all I could express - just scream".
Now Steele's preparation on going house to Salt Lake City, where his household lives, he informed the cannon fodders.
He didn't know enough about the surrounding area, including which of the many waterways in the area would be frozen over enough to cross, Steele told the troopers. Some of them had broken open in the heat and tasted like burnt hut; others, such as his peanut butter plastic jars, had melted in the contents - he kept them to the last.
Steele built a makeshift shelter and was able to gather food that hadn't been consumed in the fire. The search for Steele began when his friends had asked authorities to perform a welfare check after they had not heard from him. He said if no one came after 35 days, he would venture out of the area.
Steele spent his first two nights in a snow cave before putting together a makeshift shelter with remnants from his burned down cabin.
He wrote "SOS" in the snow and traced the letters in ashes.
"I was hysterical", Steele said.
Helicopter footage released by Alaska State Troopers showed Steele waving for help, with SOS marked out in the deep snow, after a rescue effort was launched as he had not called his parents for three weeks.